The boyz & gals at Google have been busy. Not only have they recently revamped the iOS App of Google+ it is now Android’s turn to receive a complete makeover.
The most impressive feature in this update is that now with Version 2.6 of Google+ for Android you can starts a Hangout directly from the phone and not have to use the long way like you had to do in previous versions via the Messenger App.
What is really neat is that more and more people are starting to use the Hangout instead of making a phone call. When you receive a Hangout request it even appears on the phone as “incoming Hangout” – just like a phone call.
The main stream also received a major facelift with a fresh look. The Comment and +1 buttons are easily accessible on top of each stream item. Although I have to question the choice of making them white as it does mean that they get lost in the background if the item has a white background.
I like the new easily accessible nifty navigation bar for tapping around various sections. Previously you had to jump back to the home screen to go to another view, now this is no longer the case.
The other neat feature is that you can now download photos from any stream direct to your phone from within the app. This is great as we often see something we like with the intention of going back to it later and then never do.
So in summary:
Overall the application update really is significant. It now feels like a real app, visually attractive, simple to use and feature rich. For those who use Google+ it really means that the mobile version is not just a simple dumb down version of the desktop-browser version.
The real crux is the ability to initiate a Hangout.
Having the ability to simply make and receive voice call using an application on the mobile phone is a trend I predict will only increase. The mobile phone is actually a mobile-internet-connected-devices and so you do have a choice to use traditional calls or use VOIP applications like Hangout, Skype, Tango, Viber. Historically we are wired to think that these type of applications are only good to call the family overseas however why not use these apps to call “locally” ? Its that same process of making a phone call – click the app, select the name from the address book and dial. If you are in a WiFi zone these calls cost you nothing and sometimes the quality is just as good if not better than using the cell network.
I give that a +1